Technological issues with the handheld computers to be used in the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 Census have frustrated officials and have them considering a plan to return to the traditional paper and pencil counting method of years past.
Big worries for the nation's first high-tech census should have been obvious when tests showed some of the door-to-door headcounters couldn't figure out their fancy new handheld computers.
Now, officials say, technology problems could add as much as $2 billion to the cost of the 2010 census and jeopardize the accuracy of the nation's most important survey.
Census officials are considering a return to using paper and pencil to count every man, woman and child in the nation.
At an initial cost of more than $11 billion, the 2010 census was already the most expensive ever. Officials now are scrambling to hold down costs while trying to ensure the count produces reliable population numbers -- figures that will be used to apportion seats in Congress and divvy up more than $300 billion a year in federal and state funding.